A parent has two fears that keep them up at night. The first is that their child will be indoctrinated by propaganda. The second is that they will get their own head stuck in a jar of honey in front of their child, who in turn will lose all respect for them. Today, both came true for me.
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the jar enclosed around my head prevented me from seeing the look of pity that was no doubt present on my four-year-old son’s face as he slowly came to the realization that his father was, to borrow a phrase from my wife, a fucking idiot. But after that team of firefighters finally pulled that thing off my head and I saw what my son was watching on TV, I instantly wished I was never freed from my sticky prison. Sesame Street’s newest Muppet is a cinephile, and that is an attack on our core values as a nation.
I consider myself a progressive parent. I let my son play with matches and I’ve promised to buy him a crossbow for his tenth birthday. Despite my open-mindedness, the buck has to stop somewhere. For me, it’s with Jeremy, the recent Emerson grad who just moved his felty ass onto Sesame Street. With nothing to his name but a screenwriting degree and a pompous attitude, Jeremy represents the exact type of person that the Sesame Street of old would have chewed up and spit out. It might not be woke of me to say this, but every time I see him in his little T-shirt that reads, “A Stanley Kubrick Production,” I want to throw up.
The dangers of our children being exposed to this cannot be overstated. It starts off innocently enough, with them developing a harmless affinity for the early films of Tim Burton (with Mars Attacks! being the cutoff). But the next thing you know, they can’t stop referencing The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp no matter how many blank and bewildered stares their peers give them when they do so. No son of mine will have interests like that. He should be focused on normal kid stuff, like outer space, dinosaurs, and arson.
Simply put, Jeremy is not a role model I want my son to have. After learning that all of the films in Big Bird’s top four on Letterboxd were American, Jeremy forced Big Bird to undergo something called “Bergman Boot Camp.” This led to everyone’s favorite yellow fellow dying his feathers black and declaring that God’s light had left this world, if it ever did indeed shine here.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jeremy’s uncompromising behavior as a self-described auteur doesn’t mix well with the themes of friendship and compromise that Sesame Street has become synonymous with over the last fifty-plus years. There’s no better example than when Jeremy enlisted his friends to help him make a short film, but pressured Oscar the Grouch to do a nude scene (which Jeremy insisted was integral to the film despite outside claims of it being gratuitous in nature). The experience was obviously humiliating for Oscar, whose penis clearly hadn’t seen the outside of a garbage can in decades.
Furthermore, Jeremy refused to shout out the episode’s sponsor, the number thirteen, believing that doing so would compromise his artistic integrity (though he did seem pleased that the number coincided with the number of films that Orson Welles directed).
In the interest of transparency, I should admit that I am a recovering cinephile myself. There was a time in my life when I was entrenched in the work of all the masters, from Fellini to Godard to Stallone. However, everything changed the day I went to the theater and saw that train pull into the station. I got so scared that I jumped out of my seat and never sat back down again. Is it wrong of me to want to protect my son from a harrowing experience like that?
Jeremy the gentrifier (whose parents I suspect are helping pay his rent—how else could an unemployed recent grad afford a luxury apartment on Sesame Street?) embodies the antithesis of who I want my son to be. Every time I look out my window and see him constructing yet another Wicker Man effigy in our backyard, I know Sesame Street’s pro-movies agenda is solely to blame. I just pray the show ends its divisive politics before more parents lose their children to the horrors of cinephilia.
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